It's part 4 of our blog series where we focus on the top 5 pain points we hear from customers when they’re considering switching finance systems.
"OUR BUSINESS SYSTEMS DON'T TALK TO EACH OTHER"
SMB systems are very often stuck in the past when it comes to sharing data and facilitating collaboration in teams.
There appears to have been a view in the late 90s/early 00s that data should be trapped inside the walled garden of the ERP system. Presumably to ensure that customers would only use the Sage/QuickBooks/Pegasus option for reporting/payroll/project management.
This probably worked for a while – you’d use the vendor-approved reporting package to build your reports, or you’d hook up the payroll module. There are a lot of SMBs still using this setup today.
There’s a couple of problems to this approach:
- The vendor-approved solutions were often poor from day 1, or became poor through lack of investment or further development
- There’s no way a single vendor could ever develop enough modules or solutions to satisfy all businesses, so there were still gaps in the functionality of these products.
But, while there was no alternative, these issues were just something users of the systems had to deal with.
However what these legacy software companies perhaps did not foresee, was that other offerings would come along and allow data to be shared across platforms. A mentality of “we’d rather have a small piece of something than nothing at all” when it comes to their system being used.
Now, everything is all about connectivity, integration, collaboration across platforms. We see this hugely in the B2C market where you can use your Google or Apple ID to create accounts across any number of cloud companies.
Take the world of health apps, for example. You can use your Fitbit to talk to MyFitnessPal, log workouts in Garmin and have them push to Strava, sync your running watch with Zwift. Leaving to one side whether consumers are always comfortable sharing this data, the fact it’s easy, seamless and possible in the first place, is phenomenal from a technical perspective.
B2B is finally taking a similar approach, catching up on the consumer world! For example, here’s a quick glimpse of some of the connectors available in Power Automate. Notice how many are not Microsoft applications:
The fact is, Microsoft would rather you were part of their world than using something else entirely, and you can choose how connected to make your systems.
For a user of Dynamics 365 Business Central, this opens up your finance and operations system to a whole new world of possibility. You could take the sales data out of your CRM system and import it directly into Business Central via Power Automate.
Or, you could take operations data from your factory floor machines directly into Business Central’s Production Orders.
Integrations with hauliers, couriers and ecommerce systems are all possible too. The fact is, your systems now can talk to one another, and they really should, too.
Let’s look at another quick example too. Here we can see not just the integration between systems but also how you can collaborate within teams.
Often for example, we see finance teams struggling with collaboration. There’s some key documents like management reporting, that are often saved in a network drive. Then, when anyone else wants to take a look at them, they’re locked for editing by other users.
Look at how the Microsoft ecosystem allows cross-system integration and collaboration:
If you’re not working like this already across your teams, both within the business and with external users, consider whether this could fit in for your processes.
And, think too about how Business Central could fit in with your other systems: sales, operations, despatch, web, social.
That should have given some food for thought on our latest pain point. If your systems “don’t talk to each other” then perhaps it’s time for a new system and a new approach in your business process.